Purdue does not have a hockey team. But that is not stopping the school’s basketball star from tapping into his Canadian heritage through NIL.
The deal was inspired by Edey’s mother, Julia, who wore a handmade hockey jersey to one of Purdue’s games this year. Shown repeatedly on TV during a game, Campus Ink, which runs the NIL Store platform, helped craft the idea. Originally from Toronto, Julia spends the winters in West Lafayette renting an Airbnb.
The 7-foot-4, 305-pound center has developed into one of the most recognizable players in college basketball. The “Big Maple” hockey jersey is in Purdue colors with the school’s logo, along with Edey’s name and number on the back. Currently, on a limited pre-order, the jersey is going for $89.99.
“Being Canadian is a big part of his identity, obviously hockey is the national sport,” Campus Ink Director of Athlete Development and Partnerships Adam Cook told On3 in a phone interview. “So his mom actually wore one that she had made to a game. Everybody loved it. She was featured quite a lot on the broadcast.
“And so, a big part of what we tried to do and in working with the athletes and keeping them supported is to do stuff that speaks to who they are. And so it was something that when we saw Zach’s mom do it, we were like ‘Man, this would be dope.’ So reached out to the institution and wanted to do something that would be really special for him.”
Campus Ink’s website says the company has more than 20 school licenses. While brand deals have become one of the most popular activations in the NIL Era, being able to create unique, licensed apparel has been a win for athletes.
Making sure the school’s marks are used is also important. For an athlete like Edey, much of his identity on the national level is tied to Purdue.
“A big part of what they’re doing as an athlete is so tied up in the institution,” Cook said. “It’s not just about selling merchandise, it does go back to a part of your identity, right? You look at guys like Tim Tebow, who is still obviously really big in the football world. But he’s still closely connected to Florida.
“It becomes a part of your identity. I think it’s a really special thing to not just have neat merchandise out there, but when it can carry institutional marks, it makes it a lot more fun for the fans, it makes it a lot more special for the athlete. And it does elevate the brand on both sides.”
Zach Edey will earn profit off hockey jersey
Since Edey is an international athlete, Campus Ink has gone out of its way to keep everything above board. The company has kept Edey out of specific talks surrounding the deal, making sure not to compromise his eligibility.
Cook also said the athletic department has been involved in conversations to make sure everyone is on the same page with International Student Services.
“We just do our best to make sure that Zach maintains his integrity,” Cook said. “We try to do our best to represent him the best way we can through the merchandise.”
On the basketball floor, Edey has quickly become the favorite to win Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year. The junior made 13 of his 26 shots on Monday in a win at Michigan State, finishing with 32 points and 17 rebounds.
Ranked No. 3 in the nation, Purdue also looks poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Edey is currently averaging 21.9 points and 13.4 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game. The center also holds an $803,000 On3 NIL Valuation, which ranks No. 6 in college basketball.
His fans will now be able to support him at games while celebrating his home country, too. Edey will profit between $8 and $15 per each jersey sold, Cook told On3.
“Technology is one thing, but to put a piece of apparel in somebody’s hands and watch them wear it will always be the coolest thing,” he said.